October 5, 2008

The Things That Keep Me Humble

This weekend I was very nearly spoiled to death at the CROSSROADS WRITERS CONFERENCE. They made much of me, and fed me on grilled salmon, and did such a GREAT job with promo that more than 75 folks showed up a talk I gave on a FRIDAY NIGHT, which is both universal date night AND the day before the conference actually started. It was especially good because talk took place on a campus that HAS NO FRIDAY CLASSES. I was hoping for maybe 20 folks to show, and felt I was being overly ambitious. On top of the good crowd and the spoiling and the salmon, the bookstore sold so may of my books they ran out of one title and were down to a single copy of another…I came away feeling like the princess of Macon, and my head was puffy and so large it wobbled like a newborn’s outsize melon.

BUT THEN, you know, my friend Nic decided to love the Wiki, and while she was gamboling about and browsing in the delightful meadows of the interweb’s shared knowledge, she decided to do a ‘pedia search on my name. She discovered there was no entry for any of my titles, nor was there an entry on “Joshilyn Jackson.”

HOWEVER. The search term “Joshilyn Jackson” DID direct her to a completely different Wikipedia entry that references my name and my work. The entry? Syphilis. Of COURSE, Syphilis. Because Syphilis and me, we are practically SYNONYMS.

HEE! A clear message from the universe to get OVER myself and buckle back down into real life.

Meanwhile, at the conference I met Carlo Rotella, I REALLY took to him, though we have ZERO in common. He works in academia and I work in pajamas, he is a non-fic writer and a journalist who interprets facts whereas I am a professional liar who pretty much makes stuff up, he is Italian to my Irish, and VERY much a Yankee. Like, he folds pizza.

That’s such a NORTHERN thing. My BFF, total Yankee Karen Abbott,
does that too – takes a slice and folds it right down the middle to, as she says, “keep the grease in.” Southern folks are more likely to make their hands into upside-down spiders and balance the hot pizza flat on the fingertips. Also, he is best known for writing about the intersection of urban life and boxing.

Last time I checked, boxing was a SPORT. Barring the Olympics and also games in which my own personal children compete, I don’t think I have ever sat all the way through a sporting event of any sort. Not on TV, not in life.

I went to a few games in high school, but my secret purpose was ALWAYS to be allowed to roar away in a car with a boy and log a few dark hours in the parking lot, kissing and playing endless rounds of can-my-hand-go-here-no-how-about-HERE-no-well-how-about-HERE-no-and-you-already-tried-that.

I ONCE went to some big horrible hot-dog-smell infested arena in Chicago to watch a baseball game between the Chicago team and the Atlanta team. I went with Scott and his sister, who both cheered for Atlanta while the Chicago fans around us bristled and puffed and looked more mob-like and ready to rend us in twain with every inning.

I was very busy helping my son Sam grow LUNGS at that point, but I went, and I wedged my ENORMOUS 7+ months pregnant butt into that teeny seat up in the mountainous alps of the nosebleed section, and I TRIED to sit all the way through it. Alas! Long about inning 5 (which FELT like inning 793) I had to heave myself up and flollop and galumph my unwieldy way to the Universe’s most HORRIFYING women’s room. I hollered I AM ABOUT TO PUKE!, and the long line of 30 ladies moved aside and let me go directly to the front and into a stall. I backed hurriedly OUT of the stall and chose instead to vomit endlessly into a trashcan which smelled like it contained several dead bodies, and yet it still was preferable to the HEPATITIS COATED REEKING SLAGPIT OF A TOILET .

Never. Again.

I am truly ignorant about the sporting world. Only last week, I was talking to a fellow at church and he told a story about some guy who wrote a check for a millon dollars for a charity. Just sat down and pulled out his checkbook and wrote it. “But he can afford it," the fellow said. “After all, he owns the Georgia Dome.”

I said, “What’s the Georgia Dome?”

A hush fell over the room, and everyone looked at me like I’d asked what that strange and moderately phallic-looking yellow fruit with the slippery peel all the monkeys seemed to so enjoy was called. “It has something to do with a SPORT doesn’t it?” I intuited. “People must play a SPORT there.” And it is true. The fellow confirmed it. People DO play a sport there, so of course the thing has never once bleeped upon my radar.

But Carlo and I found common ground in our near fanatical love of classic pulp. Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, these are the things my pernicious older brother pressed into my damp little hands when I was 8 or 9, and I still adore them. Conan rocks it. The Incomparable Dejah Thoris is...incomparable. So we spent all weekend ending our sentences with BY CROM and trying to out-obscure-reference each other. Great fun. He's so witty and smart that I may even end up reading about BOXING. If you like the sport, or just great writing, give his stuff a try.

Posted by joshilyn at October 5, 2008 6:54 AM

What a great day you had! Everyone should be celebrated once in a while. Or twice in a while if you can swing it.

I kind of hear you on sports. I have decided what I hate about most major sports is that they are FRUSTRATING. Football, basketball, hockey, soccer - they all involve trying to take your ball/puck someplace and having people try to stop you, sometimes even by knocking you to the ground but at least by standing in front of where you are trying to go. Please. I have enough of that trying to get my kids out the door in the morning. But I have become a fan of baseball. Everybody just does their best and whoever plays better wins.

All of that said, Fenway Park has decent ladies rooms (and even an attendant!) which surprises me as it is my understanding that the men use a slanted trough. This is beyond my definition of inappropriate on so many levels. Luckily, I'm not a dude. It also gets to be one of the oldest parks in the country which lends to all kind of fun fantasies when the game gets slow that I might be sitting in the same seat that my great grandfather sat in 1919 or that I am enjoying the same view as a Kennedy or an Affleck once did.

Posted by: Em at October 5, 2008 9:05 AM

Yay for pulp fiction! I still get a kick out of some of those guilty pleasures. And I assume the Georgia Dome is a sports arena? I just figure anything with Dome in the title is a sports place but I, too, am ignorant of the sports thing.

Posted by: donna lee at October 5, 2008 9:59 AM

Heh... I named my orc warrior Dejahthoris. "The Incomparable" wouldn't fit ;-(

Posted by: inkgrrl at October 5, 2008 11:51 AM

Which Chicago team? While it must have been the White Sox, I'm amazed, as since the new park was built, tis very mall-like. Nothing like old Comiskey, where one must wander in near-blackout conditions, only to emerge in the blinding sunlight. At Comiskey, one made sure to keep track of the elderly and the young.

And only those Yankees on the Eastern seaboard fold pizza. Here in Chi-town, we hunker down with fork and knife.

Posted by: Donna at October 5, 2008 12:49 PM

more likely the Cubs as they are a National League team and so is Atlanta. And Fenway is the best ballpark in the country, but the nice ladies rooms are a relatively recent addition. When we were growing up, nice is ... well, it's just not the word that would immediately come to mind.

Posted by: Laura at October 5, 2008 1:09 PM

Thanks for doing the con! Both your pre-conference presentation and your workshop were fabulously entertaining (as expected) and enormously informative (also as expected).

You should come to Macon more often (please?). Not only did you make new fans, your existing fans finally got a chance to see you and get books signed (<-- big marketing suggestion here). I'm a little disappointed that I never got a chance to get my hardback copies of gods and Between signed (Just a little. Getting to read them was the best part. Thank you for that, too.).

Have always loved FTK. Makes my day. Going back to lurk mode now...

Posted by: Carter at October 5, 2008 4:39 PM

Surely Mr. Husband could put together a wiki page for you...

Posted by: Jill W. at October 5, 2008 6:48 PM

I'm gonna go with Donna and say that while the cities mentioned were NL cities, we're not talking about Wrigley Field here. Of course, I've never looked at Wrigley through pregnant eyes. Er...you know what I mean. Had to be inter-league play and the old Comiskey. Right? No better ballpark in the country that Wrigley in the afternoon...a dog and an Old Style or two. Or three. Glad my memories are LOTS different than your, Joshilyn! Sorry you had such a pukey time there.

BUT, glad your weekend was FAB!!!!!!!

Posted by: Charmi at October 5, 2008 10:39 PM

Ah, lurve that old-timey pulp fiction!

When dragged to sporting events, I usually end up people-watching and also turning into some kind of anthropologist, speculating on how sporting events are the modern replacement for sending out our excess, testosterone-laden young men to go beat up some other tribe (to get rid of excess young male population!).

Hubs is a Yankee fan, but Boston is more accessable, so we have sat in the nosebleeds of Fenway, where folks would lynch him if they knew where his true sympathies lay. It must have been a while ago though, I remember NASTY rest rooms.

Posted by: Brigitte at October 6, 2008 7:29 AM

The only baseball game I ever sat through- ever truly enjoyed- was one at Turner Field a few years ago, where I sat right behind the ball boys in Jane Fonda's seat, enjoyed free drinks and snacks in one of Ted's suites, used a private toilet with real towels and had personal conversations with the players during the game and after, as we retrieved our cars from the same private lot.
The next day at home, I clicked on the TV to see another game happening at Turner Field. And guess who was sitting in "my" seat? Rosalynn Carter.
yeah, I'm officially spoiled.

Posted by: lindasands at October 6, 2008 9:40 AM

Joss isn't kidding about her lack of sports knowledge...I once heard a friend ask her if she was going to a superbowl party. Joss responded "Oh, probably not...I don't follow baseball."


Posted by: Amy-Go at October 6, 2008 9:59 AM

I really never thought of folding pizza as a Northern thing. Huh...but then I guess since I'm from the "North", I wouldn't think of folding pizza as a region specific habit. Folding = win except in cards. Although I used to think everyone knew what Beer Cheese soup was too...

Grats on your dome knowledge.

Posted by: Lia at October 6, 2008 11:19 AM

My oldest dog, Tansy, is named after a character in Leiber's "Conjure Wife." :-)

Posted by: DebR at October 6, 2008 1:37 PM

The game was in fact the Cubs vs. the Braves. We picked up our seats VERY last minutes and were in the second level bleachers, which is not the way to see a game at Wrigly. The only proper way to see a game a Wrigly is to sit in the bleachers in left field, chanting "right field sucks!", while right field chants the opposite" Sitting in the sun with the breeze coming off the lake is the way it should be. Night games at Wrigly were a huge mistake.

The greatest thing about Wrigly, and there are many, is that a home run ball hit by the opposing team will always be thrown back onto the field. That's hard core fandom.

For the record, Joshilyn does own a "Roll Tide, Alabama" t-shirt. Amazing, but true.

Posted by: Mr. Husband at October 7, 2008 9:28 AM

re the wikipedia entry, it just means we girlie southern fiction readers are LUDDITES. May correspond with you to get factoids with which to buttress a wikipedia entry.

Posted by: parrotzmom at October 7, 2008 6:13 PM